The Civil War in America, Cause and Consequences The Civil War in the United States of America is one of the most frequently studied wars of any in American History. This terrible war put brothers from the North against brothers from the South and the result was both awful and catastrophic. When counting the dead and wounded on both sides, including the destruction of houses, farms, and the livelihood of people on both sides, the Civil War was the most terrible and bloodiest war in American History.
There were many issues that sparked the beginning of the American Civil War, including moral, political and economic aspects but the defining issue was slavery. The Citizens of the North, led by President Abraham Lincoln, had declared that slavery violated the conscience of American citizens and therefore violated the fundamental foundation of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal. Most southerners disagreed strongly with this declaration and could not accept that the slaves should be considered as “men”, they were after all, property, which had been bought with their money.
These are not people who should be treated as an equal. The Southerners, mostly landowners needed manpower. They spooned to this need and bought their slaves on the market. They had paid a fair price and were committed to holding on to their property and to the continuation of slavery. The Southern farmers and others, who needed the slave manpower to plant, manage and harvest their crops and to work at other tasks strongly supported slavery.
The Southern gentlemen made the argument that they had paid good money for the slaves who had been brought over from Africa and insisted that those contracts be honored the same as if they had bought horses or cattle. As the discussion continued, the arguments became more heated and passionate. Finally, it was clear that the South would not yield and the majority of northern citizens, led by President Lincoln, could not accept that the Africans should be purchased and treated as if they were cattle.
As the discussion became more passionate, war became unavoidable because of the heated and diverse moral, political and economic arguments between passionate northerners and equally passionate southerners. Both the North and the South had moral arguments for why slavery was good or bad. In 1820, Charles Pinkeye, a slave owner with about 250 slaves made the allowing comments in his Speech to Congress. He stated that “many slaves are happier in their present situation than they could be in any other” and that anybody who would try to change their situation would be their greatest enemy.
He declared that slavery is a noble and great policy and that slaves have it better being a slave than they did running around in the Jungles of Africa. (Document B) Pinkeye was a member to Congress, and a man who also and significant intelligence. His opinion carried considerable weight in the House of Congress and his views were supported by most Southerners. In 1820, it was common to make racist Jokes about Blacks being inferior to Whites and this view was accepted by many Southerners.
Land owners were committed to the use of slaves to harvest their crops, and believed that it was their right to continue with the practice of slavery. They were willing to fight if necessary to protect their property. After a long stretch of time, if a southern slave ran away from their owner and escaped to the North where they had a chance of being free, a southern slave owner could go and claim any black person to be their slave, even if they had no proof he was their slave. Effectively, they were “kidnapping a free Negro’.
This practice was known as the fugitive slave law in 1834. Still, in 1852, slaves were still being traded at auction sales. This was another visible and huge moral component that men of conscience could not accept. For President Lincoln and many men, this and other intolerable acts’ of Southern owners violated the conscience of thinking men. Northern abolitionists held the strong view that slavery was immoral and unacceptable whereas the Southern owners held the view that the slaves were property and they would not accept the Northerners position.
They were prepared to fight if necessary to support their views (Kidnapping of a Free Negro political cartoon). Slave owners in the South continued the practice of buying and selling slaves at auction sales and they Justified the practice because slaves were property like horses or cattle. The numerous slave auctions in 1852 made visible to the public, and the terrible abuse of these slaves helped lay the ground-work for the Civil War. Southerners continued to demand that their slaves were essential to plant and harvest their crops.
When Harriet Beechen Stows, wrote and distributed her kook, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” this story struck the conscience of many thinking people both in the North and South. Further it encouraged those opposed to slavery to take action to abolish slavery. When faced with this story, many people of conscience were shocked at the reality of how a black person was being treated simply because he or she was black (Auction sale political cartoon). William Seward, a 19th century politician, presented the idea that either the whole country should support slavery or that there should be no slavery at all.
He did not believe the nation could survive with he practice of half the nation with no slaves and half continuing with slaves. To him it was either all or nothing. He reminded that slavery deals with the selling of “bodies and souls of men” and this could not be acceptable in the West. In the West, the farmers could not afford the price of slaves and they needed to use the sale of their crops to feed their families. Slavery was competition for the farmers in the West (William Seawards Irrepressible Conflict speech).
It was not only moral arguments, but also political ones that served to ignite the Civil War. In 1787, there was a compromise between the Northern and Southern tastes known as the Three-fifths Compromise. Some representatives who were opposed to slavery only wanted to count the free people of each state, on the other hand representatives who were supportive of slavery wanted to count their slaves as full people and in actual numbers. The problem with this was that the more votes a state got, the more representation they had in the House or Electoral College.
Slaves were not allowed to vote, meaning slaveholders and an increased benefit tort representation for their state. The name “Three-fifths Compromise” comes from the fact that every 3/5 of a slave is counted as a person. Approximately 2 slaves counted as one person in the south, so they got twice as many votes than the North. This proposed policy gave the South an increased number of votes in the House. The North did not agree with this because it gave the South an unfair advantage. This policy was one aspect that created more tension and eventually led to the start of the war (Three-fifths Compromise).
The higher the population of free black people, the more votes there were. About 33 years later, the North stretched the truth about their population numbers because they were hiding runaway slaves. Mississippi, for example, was a slave state that only had 458 free black people in 1820, this is likely because of all the slaves that ran away to the north. New York, on the other hand, was a free state and had 29,279 free black people. The slaves from the South ran North to get away to escape slavery to be freed.
Since the North made their numbers smaller, there were many more free black people than the chart represents (Census data chart). Thirty years later, Henry Clay wrote in his Compromise of 1850 that it is better that we “settle and adjust amicably all existing questions of controversy teen them arising out of the institution of slavery upon a fair, equitable and Just basis”. Henry Clay, a highly respected politician, was expressing his opinion that the North and South should try to solve their differences in a friendly manner that would not lead to war.
He recognized that slavery is a highly controversial issue and a peaceful resolution is necessary. He wrote in the Compromise of 1850 that California should be able to choose what they would like to be, either supportive of slavery or against slavery, since they were undecided. In 1850, there were many more slave tastes than free states and he also expressed in his document that Congress should not get involved in this affair. The last major point that he stated was that if slaves were to escape to the North, they would have to be returned by the Northerners and be imprisoned in the South.
In the Compromise of 1850 map, there is a line known as the Missouri Compromise Line, “which lies north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude” and it symbolized the line, North of which, slavery is prohibited. This line was established in 1820 when the Missouri Compromise was written (Compromise of 1850 map). Elections are always recognized as political events, and in the Election of 1860 Abraham Lincoln and Steven Douglas were the republicans. They fought over the West because Lincoln didn’t want slavery to go west and Douglas supported slavery in the west.
In the mean time there were two other candidates, John Befriending and John Bell fighting over a different issue on the other side of the country. Befriending was a southern democrat who was trying to rip the map apart and Bell was on the top trying to glue the pieces back together. Befriending was trying to change the map because he was running for president ND wanted to keep slavery in the south. The final result of this election was the election of Abraham Lincoln who took the position that slavery should not move west. Diving the National Map) Lastly, there were also economic arguments that pushed the nation towards war. Of particular note, in 1793, Eli Whitney developed a machine which he called the Cotton Gin. This machine dramatically reduced the manpower and the time needed to remove the seeds from the cotton. Previously slaves were used to clean the cotton and this reduced to number of slaves the farmers required to produce the same exult. Conveniently, this reduction of time and manpower to clean the seeds from cotton allowed the farmers to sell cotton bales cheaper while they still made as much per bale of cotton as before.
Although this labor-saving machine was great for cleaning the cotton, it still had to be planted in the first place. It did not make the work of growing cotton easier because “to plow, plant and pick 1 acre of cotton, it required walking a total distance of 1000 miles”. Before this invention only 7% of all US export dollars were from cotton, after the cotton gin was invented 60% of all US export dollars were from cotton. That is a 53% increased economic benefit from cotton, all the credit could be given to Eli Whitney.
Also, the cotton exports, in bales in 1800 before the cotton gin, was Just 36,000. In 1860 the cotton exports in bails was 4. 6 million. Although the Cotton Gin removed the seeds the rest of the work of plowing, planting and harvesting still required manpower which was provided by slaves and the result was a requirement for more slaves. (The Cotton Gin). In 1837, John C. Calhoun, a politician, made a speech in the Senate, called “Slavery, a Positive Good”. Calhoun was a southerner who supported slavery.
He clearly states: “We of the South will not, cannot, surrender out institutions”, by this he meant that the South will not give up slavery because slave labor was the backbone of their economy. Calhoun wrote: “Abolition and the Union cannot coexist”. The North did not want to necessarily get rid of slavery, they Just did not want it to spread west. Calhoun felt very strongly about slavery and absolutely did not want to give it up. (Slavery, a positive good) Twenty two years later, Bleeding Kansas was a term often used by people in the States.
Fertilizers were known as people who were against slavery proceeding towards Kansas. The poor farmers did not want slaves to be used in their territories because they could not compete with slave-owners who had slaves. Franklin Pierce and Lewis Sacs were Just a few Southern democrats who were “forcing slavery down the throat of the fertilizers. The foresail cries, “MURDER!! Help neighbors help! O my poor Wife and Children” in the political cartoon used to portray this argument. (Foresail Political Cartoon) The Civil War broke out for all of hose reasons both economic and political.
The small farmers were at a great disadvantage and could not compete with slave-owners. This created great tension between the two sides of the nation. To conclude, the Civil War started because of moral, political and economic reasons on both sides of the country. The passions were so high that War became unavoidable. The small farmers and those without slaves could not compete with landowners who owned slaves and refused to give them up. The politicians on both sides of the issue created more tension that eventually led to the outbreak of the Civil War.